To test an electric water heater heating element proceed as follows:
- Use an electronic multimeter or multi-tester to test the heating elements in an electric water heater.
Multimeter or Multi-Tester
- Turn off power to the electric water heater at the main power panel. Do this by turning off the circuit breaker or fuse powering the heater.
- Wait for the water heater to cool, this is very important because the heating elements operate off a thermostat and hot water in the tank will affect electrical flow to the heating elements.
- Test for lukewarm to cool “hot” water by opening a hot water faucet and running the water until it is cool.
- Remove the access cover panel and insulation covering the heating element terminal block. Fold the insulation outward and away from the heater element.
- Loosen the screws holding the wires to each of the two terminal screws and remove the wires.
- Test for proper functioning of the heating element by checking for an open or closed circuit (continuity) using the electronic multi-tester. Set the multi-tester to “Ohms” and connect the red lead to one terminal and the black lead to the other terminal on the heating element.
- If the ohm reading is 0 on a digital multi-tester or if the needle reads infinity (does not move) using an analog dial, there is no flow of electricity through the element and it needs replacement.
- If you get an ohm resistance value using the multi-tester, then the heating element itself is not bad. The problem may be the other heating element or the upper or lower heating unit thermostat.